Little did my husband know, when he presented me in 2005 with a copy of “CUBA: A History in Art” by Gary R. Libby, that he was about to unleash a stalker. The book, published by The Museum of Arts and Sciences in Daytona, Florida, showcases their fabulous collection of Cuban art depicting works from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The still life shown on the very cover brought back a lovely memory from my childhood. My uncle, who was an artist, made a copy of this famous oil, and it hung prominently in the dining room of my grandmother's house. As a child, I was drawn to this painting. I actually remember sitting in a rocker just staring at it (what can I say, I was a rather peculiar child). The memory had become hazy in the many intervening years, but when I saw it in the book, I felt like I had been sucker-punched. I had to have a copy of this print.
What followed was a five year exchange of e-mails between the director of the museum and myself. The museum experienced repeated delays as they worked out the logistics of getting their online store up and running, and then figured out how to mass-produce these lithos. But finally, last month, my tenacity was rewarded: I was able to order the prints.
Certainly, even without my interference, the museum would have eventually offered these prints to the public for sale. But I feel I can take a teensy bit of credit, seeing as the prints on their store happen to be the ones that were of interest to me . . .
My son, John, who works in the Framing Department at JoAnn's, framed them for me. He chose a slightly distressed black wooden frame with a beading detail on the inside border. The beading echoes the texture of the sweet apples on the left print. He double-matted them, with a wide white linen mat and a second soft black mat that relates to the color of the frame and the spots on the mangoes. The prints are the same size as the originals, with the one on the right being slightly smaller.
The still lifes were painted in the European tradition, but the use of tropical fruits, and the outdoor setting of the arrangements, give them a unique New World twist, and, they feel very sensuous to me.
The left one is called “Still Life with Mangoes and Sweet Apples.” The one on the right (my favorite) is called “Still Life with Oranges, Cocoanut (as spelled in the book), Cashew Apples, Canistel, White Sapote and Mamoncillos.” They were both painted in 1932 by Juan Gil García.
These photos are terrible, but I couldn't figure out how to get rid of the glare from the facing window, and I was too impatient to wait.
You can take the girl out of the tropics, but you can't take the tropics out of the girl . . .